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Re: SD 3rd Edition

May 22, 1998 09:11 PM
by Daniel H Caldwell

Concerning the 1893 edition of THE SECRET DOCTRINE,
I prefer to read the original 1888 edition of
HPB's magnum opus with all the alleged warts, etc.

That is not to say that there may not be value in
looking at some of the changes Mead made for the
1893 edition.  But why stop there?  Let us also
consult the Adyar Edition as well as the Boris de
Zirkoff's "Collected Writings" edition.

Inspite of what Mr. Gilbert and Dr. Bain have
said, there are other longtime Theosophical
students who beg to differ.  For example,
Dr. H.N. Stokes, also a Theosophical historian,
and Alice Cleather, also a personal student
of HPB's, were very critical of the 1893 edition.

See Mrs. Cleather's book H.P. BLAVATSKY:  A GREAT
BETRAYAL (1922) in the chapter titled:
"Tampering with H.P. Blavatsky's Writings."

Mrs. Cleather writes:  "In all my study of the
original [1888] edition I have never found more than a
few errors that matter in the least, and these
are mostly typographical and quite obvious to
any person of average intelligence." (p. 79)

Dr. Stokes, in an article in THE OE LIBRARY CRITIC,
October 12, 1921 issue, quotes a S.D. student who
was part of a group going over the differences
between the 1888 and 1893 editions:

"We have been checking Mrs. Besant's Third Edition
[1893] of the Secret Doctrine against the original
text.  It is a big task and takes time.  So far
comparison has been made of about four hundred
pages of Vol. 1, and that comparison shows more
than eight thousand actual variations from the
text of the original edition.  If the proportion
holds good throughout the volumes, the actual
changes will be far more than twenty thousand.
Many of these changes are trivial and one
wonders at the impertinence or conceit which
inspired them.  Some of the changes. . . can
only be construed as deliberate and intentional
suppressions and corruptions of the original text."

And H.N. Stokes, commenting on this quote, writes:

"The extent of the tampering will be still more clear if we
express it somewhat differently.  8,000 changes in
400 pages make 20 changes to the page, and the pages
average 40 lines each.  That means an *average
of no less than one change in every two lines!*"

Elsewhere Dr. Stokes comments on the editing
of the 1893 editon of the S.D.:

"Yet they have but to compare say a dozen
pages of the original edition with the Besant
"revision" to see, if they know anything, that
by far the greater part of the minor changes
are in no way a betterment of the English, that
they are wholly uncalled for and that the whole
performance (apart from the suppressions) resembles
more than anything else the behavior of a
school boy who has been set to correct the
essay of a companion, and who thinks that
it looks big to make all sorts of needless
alterations. . . . One can hardly compare
the "revision" with the original text without coming
to the conclusion that it is the work of a
conceited pedant and intellectual midget."

OE LIBRARY CRITIC, Sept. 27, 1922.

Was this kind of editing and changing really
necessary??  No doubt, HPB's book had "shortcomings."
But what book doesn't?  Would you, Dr. Bain,
approve of Mead's own books being likewise edited
after his death?  Do you approve of editors doing
likewise with the works of other deceased writers?
And when changes are made without telling the reader,
how is the reader to know whether the changes are
actually justified or not?

Daniel Caldwell

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